7 Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing

Posted: September 18, 2010 in HIS Communications

With the advent of Social Media and Social Media Marketing, the ability of writers to create and publish their own books has expanded the horizon of opportunity for all of us. Self-publishing is now a realistic way of seeing your book or novel in print without involving a publisher or publicist.

Amazon has seen the future and believes that electronic publishing (“e-books”) is right on the verge of becoming a huge market. Reader products like Kindle have paved the way for more technologically efficient readers like Apple’s iPad. Couple the convenience of the book’s availability electronically with the fact that e-books are “green” (which means they don’t require the death of trees for paper or for subsequent disposal problems down the road), and the market seems ready to burst.

If you have the desire to publish your own book, be it paperback or e-book, there are a ton of things to consider at the very beginning. But before you run out and start using companies like Lulu,  Xulon Press, or Book Surge,  clarify a few areas before diving into the self-publishing pool. 

Set a Realistic Goal for Your Book

What do you want to accomplish by publishing a book? Are you looking for a book to provide you with the tag of being an expert? Is your desire to teach, inform, or entertain your reader? Will your book lend itself to “re-purposing” (Workbook, MP3, video course, blogs, etc.)? How many books do you have to sell to break even? How much self-promotion can you do?

Self-publishing is more than simply writing a book and getting it printed or electronically published. Without a publisher doing the work for you, you will find that self-promotion requires time, patience and an understanding of many methods used to effectively reach an audience.

Be Prepared for Possible Disappointment

Great books often go unnoticed. Most books sell 100-200 copies, which typically represents about a third of our friends and relatives. Self-promotion (branding) is an art that mystifies and eludes many authors. As a result, many books with the potential to become best sellers actually become disappointments.

Print on demand (POD) allows you to print as few as one or two books at a time at a cost of $5 to $8 each, so the chances of going broke are minimal. Keep in mind, however, that the ego of a writer regarding their creation is fragile. Larger numbers can become an elusive trap.

With that said, there are great stories of authors who have been discovered through their self-published book(s). There is also a great deal of pleasure to be gained by seeing your thoughts and ideas in print. In publishing a book, perception is a big factor in weighing success.

Begin Branding Yourself Right Now

You cannot rely on facebook friends to assure the success of your book. Visibility and people who will accept an e-mail from you are critical; however, by constantly pushing your book to your facebook friends, you risk becoming a spammer. In the near future we will dedicate a blog to branding, which will explore this subject in greater depth.

Niche Books Sell Best  

If you are writing a devotional or novel, this doesn’t mean you should stop; however, books that target an identifiable audience with “how to” material typically outsell their counterparts. A niche book provides added value, as well, since it often lends itself to the art of “re-purposing”. 

Professional Editing is a Must  

Just because my friend has an advanced degree in English, I should not automatically assume that she can edit my book. Find a proven book editor who can tighten your text, review your English, and eliminate the “nuisance factors” in your writing. Do not assume that SpellCheck identifies no misspellings and/or bad grammar, so the book must read well. And never, never edit your own stuff!

The Book Cover Counts 

Whether it’s a paperback, hardcover or e-book, the appearance of the jacket or cover of the book is critical. Obviously, the potential reader sees it before reading word one. There is only one chance to make a good first impression and that is the cover. The goal is to entice the reader to “turn the page” and start reading. If you are not tremendously gifted as a graphic designer, find someone who specializes in book covers and pay them to design something great (and make certain that the finished product looks good as a small icon for Amazon and the internet).

Pricing is Important  

How will you price your book, particularly if it will be available through Amazon and other book stores? Often your royalty will be about 35% . If you sell your book for $16.99  then 35% of that is $5.95. From that you subtract the cost of printing the book, say $5.50 and you find you’ve made a whooping 45 cent profit. Not a great return on investment, particularly since pricing is so competitive. Check the online bookstores to see what other authors are charging for their books.


The self-publishing industry is very new and is constantly shifting and re-inventing itself. What I say today may not apply to what is true tomorrow. The seven thoughts above are presented simply to get you to weigh the costs of writing a book, not to discourage you from writing a best seller. It is typically not easy being discovered, but it does happen every day and the odds are probably equal to (if not better than) playing the lottery. Just remember that the rewards of participation are immeasurable.

Having a book published brings with it a new perception of the author/yourself and also provides a legacy of your abilities. Those two considerations, alone, make the effort of writing and publishing a book worthwhile.

 My goal is to provide easy-to-read and easy-to-follow suggestions to those of you who want to write and publish a book and are just getting started.

 I will appreciate your feedback, as well as your ideas for future blogs.

 In His service and yours,

  1. Bob Searle says:

    Thank you for your input. I have already published my first book last year. Streets of Fire, confessions of an Oakland Cop. But you are right, it is hard to promote it. I also have a web site at http://www.BobSearle.com. I have also put adds on FaceBook, and have it on Kindle. But only sold about 74 copies the first 6 months. Do you have any ideas for promotion that might help?

    Thank you,

    Bob Searle

  2. This article has been of great help to me as i made many of the mistakes alluded to in self publishing my first book.Im in the process of publishing th esecond one and will definetly make ammends.

  3. David Lantz says:

    I agree completely with what you’re saying, especially when it comes to positioning one’s self for the emerging ebook world.

    I have a historical novel, The Brotherhood of the Scroll. When I put it on Amazon’s Kindle, I first put hyper links into lots of different places/events/people. That way, someone reading the novel could click a link and “go there.”

    I’ve created a short youtube video that demonstrates this. Hope you don’t mind my sharing – it’s at http://www.youtube.com/dlantz6#p/u/6/QABWSWRJ-Ds


  4. Tracey Jones says:

    Mike, great comments on things for any author to definitely consider!

  5. Benjamin says:

    Mike, great stuff man. I am ready to write!

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